The Meaning Behind Rihanna’s Most Significant Tattoos

Rihanna Tattoos

In case you’ve never noticed, pop star Rihanna has filled her body with a ton of different tattoos over the years—as in, more than 20, total. From covering her arms in ink to even getting some on her hands and fingers, RiRi isn’t bashful on where she’s putting something that will most likely be there for the rest of her life—assuming she doesn’t ever get anything removed. But, as anyone with tats knows, getting something permanently on one’s body is a major league decision, with the deciding factor being if whatever it is being tatted on meaningful enough to stay there. And because Rihanna has so many different ones, even admitting to, “enjoying to hang out in tattoo shops,” I’m giving you the meaning behind 10 of her most significant ones—just don’t try and duplicate them if they aren’t as meaningful to you.

10. Colored Skull With a Bow on Ankle (Since Covered Up)

There are a lot of strange tattoos out there, but the colored skull that RiRi has on the back of her ankle is one that’s definitely up there. Sort of a mix of different personalities—young, yet irreverent—the tattoo has a pink bow on top of the skull, giving it a less dangerous appearance and showing that she has a softer side. It’s the only one that actually has any color in it, too.

9. The Letter ‘R’ on Left Shoulder Blade

Seeing how her name is Rihanna, this one should be self-explanatory, right? While some people may get their full name or something to help disguise what the ink on their body actually represents, the star doesn’t do anything of the sorts, full repping her name by showing off the letter ‘R’ anytime she wears a sleeveless top or something that exposes her back. Seeing how it’s on her shoulder blade and not too hidden, it’s definitely one that she enjoys letting people look at.

8. Musical Note on Foot

As a musician, it’s pretty self-explanatory as to why the pop star decided to get a musical note on her body—because it’s what she loves to do and has made a living from. With this particular tattoo believed to be her first one ever, getting it in 2006, the ink represents her inspiration and musical journey that she first began right around that same time. It’s of the treble clef, followed by a sixteenth note—and is a reminder to herself for the love of music.

7. Pisces Behind Ear

The second tattoo she ever got, Rihanna’s Pisces sign behind her right ear is a celebration of her astrological sign, as she was born on February 20, 1988. It was actually done at the same time as the music notes I mentioned before by a famous Brazilian artist who makes his clients book three years in advance. Thankfully, RiRi had two pieces knocked out while she was in Tokyo in 2006.

6. Falcon on Ankle

Deciding to cover up her first tattoo of the aforementioned music note on her ankle, Rihanna went with an Egyptian falcon to do so. She showed off the new piece to her Twitter followers in 2012, writing the caption, “Falcon: a light that shines in the darkness! Never close their eyes during sleep. The piece was inspired by a 2,300-year-old that resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and is on the inside of her right ankle. The idea was actually the one that Rihanna had for her first tattoo, but went against it until a few years later—switching from doing it on her back to the current placement on her ankle.

5. Cross on Collarbone

Although she has over 20 tattoos—which are often fairly large in size—Rihanna went with a more subtle one in 2012 by getting a small cross on her collarbone. While it seems innocent at first, many criticized the singer for getting it in red and on a slant, which, according to some, is a symbol used by the Freemasons to represent godlessness. It is said that the singer got it on her collarbone so she could easily cover it up with a necklace if need be—yet it’s still highly visible when in plain sight.

4. Arabic on Ribs

Written in Hebrew on the singer’s ribcage, the words, “Al Hurria fi Al Maseeh,” translate to, “Freedom of God.” Sitting on her left ribcage and written in traditional Arabic, right to left, the tattoo is actually pretty unconventional—seeing how getting inked up in considered unlawful in the Islam religion. Of any of the tattoos Rihanna has, this one might be the most telling of her breaking free of her upbringing and expressing her individualism as she has grown.

3. Stars down on Back of Neck

One of the most visible and famous tattoos on the singer, the stars stretch from the back of her neck to the back of her right shoulder blade. Started by an L.A.-based artist who did the first part of the small, black stars and larger outlined ones, it wasn’t completed for a little while after by her favorite artists in New York City. The second artist completed the trail of stars and added more of a variety, which were set to match former boyfriend Chris Brown’s trio of stars behind his ear.

2. Prayer on Hip

Arguably the sexiest tattoo that Rihanna sports, the words are from an ancient Sanskrit prayer that runs from her waist to the top of her hip—making it very revealing. Getting it back in 2007, the Hindu scripture translates to, “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control.” Unfortunately, it was misspelled and translated to, “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness.” Who knew that just a few differences in dots and shapes could result in such a major difference?

1. “Shhh” on Finger

This one might be the strangest one to decipher of all the other tattoos that the pop star has—because it could have a variety of different meanings. Appearing on the index finger of her right hand, the tattoo is one of the most copied design amongst both fans and other entertainers. In fact, actress Lindsay Lohan and singer Lily Allen share the exact same artwork on their fingers, too, proving that Rihanna is quite influential when it comes to what she’s getting on her. Used to simply tell someone to shush whenever she lifts her finger to her mouth, it’s one that’s probably both respected and a little bit intimidating.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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